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Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.—File Photo

ISLAMABAD:Pakistan's National Assembly has completed its constitutional five-year tenure on Sunday for the first time in its political history, paving way for a caretaker administration to oversee general election expected in mid-May.

Earlier on, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf addressed the nation on Saturday night in his farewell speech as the country’s premier.

Prime Minister Ashraf  said the completion of full constitutional term by his government was no less than a historic achievement, despite all the odds.

“Despite all the odds, completion of the term is an extraordinary and historic achievement,” he said and added that the journey of democracy to this stage has seen many difficulties.

He said there was a long history of conflict between democratic and non-democratic forces in the country, however the democratic forces have now finally succeeded.

The prime minister said it was a matter of honour for him that an ordinary person such as himself, was the prime minister of the country and said it reflected a continuity of the democratic dispensation in the country.

He said that in the past five years the government has had to face strong criticism from the media.

“We kept in view the freedom of media and not only tolerated all criticism, but also cooperated with it, so that it continues to work for strengthening of democracy.”

The prime minister said while keeping in view the right of the media to be independent, responsibility from elements of the media should not be ignored.

Raja Pervez Ashraf is expected to stay as the premier until a caretaker prime minister takes over.

Text of the prime minister’s farewell speech in Urdu

An official notification issued earlier Saturday by the Ministry for Law and Parliamentary Affairs said the National Assembly would stand dissolved at midnight March 17.

“In pursuance of Article 52 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the National Assembly stands dissolved on the expiration of its term of five years on the 16th day of March, 2013,” the notification said.

The notification was issued by the Law Minster on the directions of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.

“The National Assembly and the federal cabinet will be dissolved tonight,” said Law Minister Farooq H Naek.

“If consensus is not reached on the caretaker prime minister, then the matter would go to the parliamentary committee,” he added.

Naek said that a majority decision of the committee can decide who will be selected as the interim prime minister of the country.